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Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts (1st edn)

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan
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date: 27 May 2024

Content Analysis

On the Riselocked

Content Analysis

On the Riselocked

  • Leeann Bass
  •  and Holli A. Semetko


This chapter explains content analysis, which is a social science research method that involves the systematic analysis of text, media, communication, or information. The source, the message, the receiver, the medium, and the influence of the message are all topics that have been studied using content analysis and in combination with other methods. There are deductive and inductive approaches to content analysis. Two widely cited studies using content analysis take a deductive approach: using predefined categories and variables based on findings and best practices from prior research. Studies taking an inductive approach to content analysis, by contrast, have an open view of the content, usually involve a small-N sample, and are often based on a qualitative approach. Meanwhile, much has been written on methods and approaches to measuring reliability with human coders. Traditional content analysis uses human coders, whereas a variety of software has emerged that can be used to download and score or code vast amounts of textual news data. The chapter then identifies key benefits and challenges associated with new computational social science tools such as text analysis.

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